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My Personal Experience With Kindergarten “Redshirting”

Academic “redshirting” (holding children back so that they're older when entering kindergarten) has been a hot topic lately. But, many years ago, before the term redshirting was borrowed from college football and used in education, I was faced with a similar decision.

My son’s birthday is in November. The cut-off date for children entering kindergarten in our state, at that time, was Dec. 31. This meant my son could have entered kindergarten at age 4. He would have turned 5 the November of his kindergarten year.  My husband and I had many discussions about what to do.

In my heart, I knew that he was not developmentally ready. He was physically big for his age and had good verbal and social skills, but these were deceiving. He was not as mature as he looked. I had the added advantage of being an educator, and so I knew what was expected academically, behaviorally, and socially in early education. 

So, we decided to “redshirt” him a year. We made a financial sacrifice to give him a third year of preschool. He was the tallest child in the preschool class that year, and I’m sure other parents wondered “Why isn’t this kid in kindergarten?”

Twenty-six years later I still feel it’s one of the best decisions we ever made as parents! Here is why:


  • We had to think long-term. Did we want him, as a high school sophomore at age 15, with other students who were already driving? No, we did not!
  • Did we want him going off to college at age 17? No, we did not!
  • Those extra months in pre-school gave time for penmanship, focusing skills, and interest in reading to develop. 
  • Being older in his early school years gave him confidence. That confidence put him in a leadership position, right from the start.


Sadly, so much of a child’s life today seems to be on fast-forward. Based on my personal experience, I am all for the “gift of time” that redshirting delivers. In my opinion, this is one of the best gifts you can ever give your child.

And recently, when I asked my son, Michael, his opinion, he enthusiastically agreed!

Editor's note: Be sure to read our article: Kindergarten Redshirting: Is It Right for Your Child? Please leave a comment on the article and share your thoughts about the practice of redshirting.

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#7 Guest 2016-03-29 11:55
Fortunately for me, I attended a school that looked at skill level as well as age. I started school at 4 and college at 17, and always being the youngest never bothered me. Unfortunately, I now live in a school district that uses an age cut-off date. My son misses it my one week, so he will be nearly 6 when starting kindergarten. As a teacher I know he's already advance academics you. I have no intention of trying to dampen his love of learning. My concern for him is getting bored in school because he has to wait a year to begin.
#6 Teacher Help For Parents 2013-02-22 01:39
I found this topic so interesting that I researched it. I read The National Center for Education Statistics report on children starting kindergarten at different ages as well as different news articles. This post sums up my findings: https://teacherhelpforparents.com/2012/08/when-should-my-child-start-kindergarten/
#5 Connie McCarthy 2012-05-23 21:49
Thank you for your comment Christy. I do have to commend your school system for having a September 1 cut-off date. Had my school district, at that time, had that same September cut-off date it would not have been an issue for our family. The decision of when our son started Kindergarten would have been made for us. Unfortunately, our cut-off date was December 31st, and our Kindergartens were only half-day. That meant that my son could have been in the same class with children that were almost a whole calendar year older than he. Fortunately, our state changed the cut-off date to August 31. I have seen this change make a huge difference in school readiness in my first grade classes.
As you said, there will always be a youngest child in the class. Children should not be measured by their age, or comparison to other students. They should be measured by their ability to meet national Common Core standards, currently adopted by 48 of our 50 states.
#4 Christy 2012-05-21 22:23
The problem with your logic is that somebody has to be the youngest kid in the class. It's great for YOUR kid that you held him back, but that puts other kids in the class at an even greater disadvantage. Our school system has a cut-off of September 1, which I think is more appropriate since it does prevent most kids from going to college at 17. But once that's accounted for, red-shirting is, for most kids, a selfish, overly indulgent move, that creates an advantage for one child will putting others at a disadvantage. Parents should focus on helping their child succeed given all of their personal strengths and weaknesses, rather than trying to control everything about their lives.
#3 Anne 2012-05-17 06:05
It's my first to encounter about this situation, You brought up something that I had not really thought about. Thanks for sharing your experience.
#2 Devora Drive 2012-05-16 22:00
My experience was the opposite, entering kindergarten at 4 and college at 17. It worked fine for me, but as I've gotten older I've realized one way it had a long-lasting influence on me. I was always the youngest or almost the youngest kid in the grade. As an adult, it took a while for me to quit feeling like I was the youngest and was somehow trying to catch up with everyone else. Of course now, as a parent, I'd love to feel younger than I really am!
#1 Martha 2012-05-15 19:36
It is so important, and often so difficult, to slow down in this fast paced world and consider long-term effects. The points you considered are key to the healthy development of any child. Thank you for the well-earned advice!

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